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Saturday, June 16, 2012


I've been hoarding cucumbers. I'm not sure why, really. There are plenty of them at every farm stand at the farmers' market. They're not going anywhere. They're everywhere.  I usually grow them on a tall trellis on the corner of our garage, but never got around to it this year. The notion of not having them growing in our back yard may have been the spark that ignited the flame to hoard. I shop at the market three times a week, bringing home a basket of cucumbers with every visit. Do the math. They piled up.  It's not even pickling season.  You'd think I'd planned  to load my car with cucumbers, park on the side of a country road, and sell them from the trunk of my PT Cruiser.

A couple of weeks ago, Michael asked me why I hadn't purchased any cucumbers while we were browsing  the farmers' market. He had no idea that my bag was filled with them. They were safely tucked away beneath  fennel bulbs, radishes, and green onions. Crazy. Caught.

Eventually, we started eating them. Bright. Crunchy. Fresh. The juicy ones were fantastic thinly sliced and tossed into salads.

I sliced the largest cucumbers and tossed them with sliced candy onions before marinating  them with sugar, salt, and vinegar. Old school. Country style.  Before she started her manic pickling marathons, my grandmother always had a bowl of macerated cucumbers lingering in her refrigerator throughout the summer months. I adored their limpy crispness. They were crunchy, soft. tart, and sweet. We ate them with every meal. Check.

I diced the medium sized Kirby cucumbers and mixed them with pureed heirloom Black Brandywine tomatoes, minced onions, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice for refreshing bowls of chilled cucumber soup (not gazpacho).  Check.

After all of my cucumber merry making, I still had a handful of leftover pesky baby cucumbers.  The cute ones.  The adorable little ones. Without seeds or juicy flesh, they were almost tasteless and dry. I did what any sane person would do,  I grilled them and pickled them. Yep. Check......and double check.

Maybe I was bored.  Who cared?
I quartered eight tiny cucumbers, two small purple candy onions, and tossed them with olive oil before tumbling them onto a screaming hot grill pan for 3 to 4 minutes. When they were slightly marked by the grill, I pulled them from the heat to cool.

After whisking together 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar,  1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, and sprigs of fresh dill,  I filled three small mason jars with the grilled cucumbers and onions before covering them with the pickling juice. I sealed the jars and slid them into the refrigerator to chill. Check Mate.

Because they were so small and dense, the pickles remained incredibly crisp. With hints of smokiness,  dill, mustard seeds, and vinegar, they tasted like jacked-up quick pickled gherkins.

Give me a hot dog.

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